Since nutrition is an essential part of our REWIRE upgrade program, I‘m often asked whether there is a simple way to eat completely. healthily.. My answer: yes, there is a way to optimize your food intake — at least on a high level.
If you plan to choose a healthy diet, you should address:
- what you eat and drink,
- how much you eat and drink, and
- how often you eat and drink.
Most diet recommendations are limited to the first aspect of what you should eat. Obviously, this is important, since as we say in the information business: „shit in, shit out“, which means if your food intake is of low quality, your organism won‘t be able to achieve good results. If you opt for the so-called Mediterranean diet, that‘‘s perfect. If you want to know more about specific diets, have a look here
Next, it seems also obvious that the amount of (the calories of) food intake defines your BMI. Calory restriction (CR) is the best advice if you‘re heading for a good, long life. Scientists working in the field of ageing, cite CR as the ultimate recommendation for longevity.
The last aspect, however, is the third relevant criteria of a healthy diet: the frequency of your food intake results in short-term effects, such as losing or gaining weight, but much more relevant are the long-term effects, its impact on your health span — that part of your overall lifespan you do not suffer from chronic illnesses, which is, on average, roughly the last 10–15 years of your life. After food intake, our bodies need time to digest, to make use of the input. It takes about six to eight hours for food to pass through your digestive system. Food then enters our large intestine for further digestion, absorption of water and, finally, elimination of undigested food. It takes about 36 hours for food to move through the entire digestive system. All in all, from the time we swallow food to the time it leaves our bodies as feces, it takes about two to five days, depending on the individual.
Obviously, nobody waits for 3 days to start eating again. However, the recommendation here is to provide your digestive system with enough time to do its work. Religions and philosophies, such as Christianity, Buddhism or Sufism, teach us to fast for 8 hours before start eating again. In the health and wellness area we speak of Intermittent Fasting (IF). IF can be done in various ways — the best known version is 16:8, which means you don‘t eat for 16 hours, and you eat in a time window of eight hours. Another famous version is the Fast-Five diet, that recommends to only eat in a time window of 5 hours, ideally from 5pm-10pm. In this period, you can eat what you want and how much you want, the proponents of this version argue (I’d be sceptical, and I’d recommend to mainly eat high-protein and high-carb food if you opt for Fast Five).
Whatever version of IF you choose, my advice is to go for one that best fits into your daily schedule and that is socially acceptable. I, personally, only choose behaviours that I can fit into my overall lifestyle for an extended period of time. IF for me means 14:10 on typical days, i.e. skipping breakfast (going for green tea and espresso, only). Then, I try to have 8 hours between lunch and dinner without food intake. Roughly 14 hours after food intake, a key homeostatic mechanism called autophagy kicks in. Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate new, healthy cells.
For me, that 14:10 regimen is always the goal, but I don’t see it in a dogmatic way. If I’m offered fresh fruits or very dark chocolate during an afternoon meeting, I eat some. It fascinates me, that our bodies provide us with several options to regenerate and rewire ourselves, physiologically as well as mentally.
A little trick for those days you have to travel: just skip meals you typically would not have actively chosen yourselves, s.a. snacks on the plane, fast food at the airport or bad finger-food at receptions. Especially when being in transit, it is easy fasting by not opting for bad choices.
To sum it up: eat only good food, but less, and less frequently. That‘s the simple nutrition program that should work best for everybody who is prepared for a minimum of commitment to a regimen.